A sense of community is vitally important in these strange, surreal times, but of course the best convenience stores knew that all along.
As I write this, the number of confirmed infections and, very sadly, deaths in the UK due to the coronavirus are still on the rise, so there is little prospect of any relaxation of the current restrictions for the immediate future. Most people, I am sure, will support the current messaging on social distancing – which is finally getting through to the public at large – and how that translates into good practice in stores. But this is bringing enormous challenges for retailers in terms of managing customers, refilling shelves and obtaining stock in the first place and we are already seeing many stores reducing opening hours in order to manage replenishment and customer flow with an ever-reducing staff roster.
For the time being, the best we can hope for is that behaviour in the stores and throughout the supply chain settles down into a predictable pattern. We might not yet be at the peak in terms of restrictions on movement, but the absence of any new announcements from the government about this has at least reduced some of the shopper panic we had been witnessing, as people gradually get used to the new reality and revert to more calm and rational behaviour.
It’s been said before but I’ll say it again. Throughout this crisis, independent convenience stores and their staff have been doing an amazing job. The dedication to their businesses and the community at large is being demonstrated time and time again with the extra hours spent obtaining stock from a variety of sometimes unconventional suppliers and setting up delivery and other community services from scratch. A sense of community is vitally important in these strange, surreal times, but of course the best convenience stores knew that all along.